Hope’s Heat Meter: Big Ten struggles; BYU and Seton Hall shine; Virginia revisited

In “Hope’s Heat Meter,” Connor Hope analyzes the hottest takes in college basketball and determines if there’s any substance behind the Internet’s wild opinions.

With over a week of games already in the books, there are plenty of new college basketball takes spewing about, and the heat is only continuing to rise.

In this week’s Heat Meter, we take a look at three reactions from Tuesday’s biggest games. It’s also important to revisit a hot take from last week which is now looking increasingly valid.

For the purposes of this series, we define hot takes as reactionary takes based on minimal evidence or thought. In other words, the hotter the take, the more reactionary it is in nature, and the less likely it is to be 100 percent accurate. Remember, don’t buy into hot takes unless you are willing to get burned.

Let’s dive into this week’s hottest takes, using the Scoville Scale.

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“The Big Ten is fraudulent.”

The answer to this depends entirely on how strong one believed the Big Ten was entering the season and also the way one determines conference strength. In comparison to where the Big Ten expected to be in the preseason, then this take isn’t quite as hot as one might think. It’s clear that the Big Ten has struggled over the first week and a half, recording exactly zero wins against the other five major conferences through Tuesday night, but they have still shown plenty of promise to hold on to moving forward.

Although good wins have eluded the B1G so far, it has not suffered many bad losses either. In fact, Nebraska has the only loss to a team outside the top 120 on KenPom (the top 33 percent in the nation). This mark is tied with the Big 12 and Big East for the fewest such losses in the country. While we don’t know if the Big Ten will repeat as the strongest conference during the regular season, we should still view it as a top 3 conference moving forward.

Heat Meter: Scotch Bonnet (100,000 – 350,000 units)

“BYU is a top-10 team.”

This hot take came early Wednesday morning after BYU routed Oregon in the Phil Knight Invitational to the tune of 81-49. The Cougars not only controlled the entire game — they did so with a rotation of nine key players. This team is deep, can shoot, and has an absolute star in Alex Barcello. These facts have led both myself (No. 10) and Stadium’s Jeff Goodman (No. 8) to move BYU into our respective top 10s.

With all of that being said, this is more of a reaction to how good BYU has looked through three games than a take. If we are to consider all the facts, we need to recognize that BYU, a team predicated on the strength of its perimeter play, has barely eclipsed 30-percent shooting from deep through three games. The Cougars also failed to win the turnover battle in their first two games, recording just one steal in each contest. These two huge question marks are what separate good teams from great teams. All of this is to say that I have BYU as a top-10 team, but I’m entirely ready to be roasted alive when they play Utah at the end of the month.

Heat Meter: Trinidad Scorpion (1,200,000 – 2,000,000 units)

“Seton Hall has the nation’s best defense.”

This hot take comes via my co-host and Heat Check CBB’s lead national writer: Brian Rauf. In the latest episode of the podcast, Brian argued that Seton Hall has the best defense in the country, holding Yale to 43 points below its scoring average and the Michigan Wolverines to 17 below theirs. This is a team built on the defensive end, evidenced by its averages of 6.7 blocks, 7.3 steals and 52.7 points per game allowed so far this season.

The Pirates’ defense is great, but it might be a stretch to call it the best in the nation at this point. Teams such as Illinois and Memphis also have claims to the title and will be tough to exceed. But unlike what I would have said earlier in the season, the Pirates taking the top spot in defensive efficiency by the end of the year is now well within the range of outcomes.

Heat Meter: Poblano (1,000 – 1,500 units)

Eating The Leftovers: “Virginia isn’t an NCAA Tournament team.”

We covered this topic last week, which, at the time, I suggested was losing its status as a hot take title quickly. Many of us wrote the loss to Navy off as a slip that move Virginia from a borderline top-25 team to a moderate top-40 team. They followed this up by beating Radford soundly to seemingly get back on track. But Tuesday night the Cavaliers didn’t just lose to Houston, they were thoroughly dominated.

We have come to expect Virginia’s defense will be tough even if its offense struggles. But against Houston, it let the Cougars shoot 55 percent from three, lost the rebounding battle, and gave up 16 fast-break points. This coupled with just one Cavalier scoring in double digits made the team look like they didn’t even belong on the same floor as Houston.  If not for the BYU-Oregon game, this would have been the final nail in the coffin for many analysts. I’m still putting the NCAA Tournament into Virginia’s grasp, but the floor and ceiling are both collapsing around them.

Heat Meter: Pepperoncini (100 – 500 units)

Bonus “Not Take” of the Week: “Loyola Chicago will never make the NCAA Tournament out of the A10.”

Whenever I see a team make an announcement about its conference affiliation, I know that the last thing I should do is wade into the Twitter comments … but here we are. This gem was not just provided by one person either, and seemed to be a pretty popular minority opinion in response to Jon Rothstein’s “breaking” update.

I want to start off by saying that Loyola Chicago has been more consistent than nearly every A10 team over the last five years, and would probably be picked to finish second in the conference if they had joined prior to this season. I want to finish by saying that the MVC’s highest-ranked KenPom team has finished ahead of every conference’s top ranked team at least once in the last five years with the exception of the WCC, SEC and Big 12. Additionally, the two teams that have left the MVC in the last 10 years – Creighton and Wichita State – earned NCAA Tournament bids in the first seasons with their new conferences.



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